Chimaeze and Chinwe Oforduru were married legally; traditionally and in church under the Marriage Act.
Chinwe was working in one of the new generation banks when they got married.
However, immediately after the marriage, Chimaeze’s parents begged her to resign and dedicate herself wifely duties. She obliged by resigning from her well-paying job partly because of the love she has for her husband and more because of the massive respect she has for the family of her husband. Or so she thought.
Interestingly, despite her resignation, Chinwe has never really been the sit-at home-kind of housewife. She has always had a side hustle and does multiple businesses. Her businesses flourished so much that she was able to support her husband financially as all dutiful and good wives are wont to do.
Thus, she robustly and lavishly supported her husband when they embarked on the purchase and development of a piece of land in Owerri where they subsequently built their personal home.
Joy they say has too much of a slender body and short lived. For Chinwe and her three daughters, life was rosy until five years ago when Chimaeze suddenly and mysteriously died, leaving her with three beautiful daughters to cater for. That was when the real hell began.
Chimaeze’s siblings suddenly sprang from nowhere and started laying claims to all his properties citing the inability of Chinwe to have a son for their late brother as reason to disentitled her and her three daughters from inheriting or having anything to do with their deceased brother’s properties
Since his demise, it has been one problem or the other for the poor widow. His siblings have been fighting Chinwe over the house she and her husband built in Owerri.
They have never asked how their late brother’s daughters are doing, how their school fees are paid, how their house rent is taken care of and how they are fed since the five years he died. The only thing they want is to take the house away from Chinwe and her daughters.
Not too longer ago, the family shared their late father’s assets without giving Chinwe the wife of their late brother and her kids a dime.
Chimaeze’s eldest sister Mrs. Lilian Kelechi Arigbodi Née Oforduru, who also has three daughters in her husband’s house is the one financing court proceedings against Chinwe.
Vincent Oforduru, her husband’s elder brother whom her husband banned from entering their house in Owerri, now goes into the house the way he likes. He has moved into the family house and is now in-charge of the two-storey building there. He has been taking Policemen to the house built by Chinwe and her husband in Owerri to harass her gate man.
Ogedi Vivian Nixon-Irabor, one of her late husband’s sisters wants Chinwe to hand over the Range Rover her husband Chimaeze bought for her after she gave birth to Kayla, her last daughter. Her excuse for demanding for the car was that she wants to keep the car in remembrance of her late brother.
Chinwe weeps everyday knowing that if her husband were to be alive, none of these hungry wolves will dare come close to attack her.
Chiagozie Paul Oforduru, Chimaeze’s youngest brother whom he fought his parents to allow him go to the University in Uk, told Chinwe that he can pay the school fees of Angel & Yannie, his late elder brother’s daughters, only when Chinwe downgrades the quality of their education by bringing them back to Nigeria from the USA where they are schooling.
While all these charades were going on, Chiagozie Paul Oforduru suddenly remembered that years ago when his deceased elder brother Chimaeze was alive, that he paid $10,000 into the deceased person’s account and without much ado brief a lawyer to prosecute the recovery of same, from the same woman and her three daughter whom they had already disinherited from the estate of the deceased person and that of his father’s.
Now the question is; was this money paid into Chinwe’s account? How can she refund money she knew nothing about? How was she even sure that said money was paid into her husband’s account.
This is the same story in some areas of Igboland where women are subjected to cruel and wicked custom where families of deceased accuse wives of killing their husbands and taking away all the properties they laboured together for, leaving them high and dry. Some widows were even forced to drinking water used in bathing the corpse of their deceased husbands just to prove their innocence.
Widowhood results from the death of a spouse which may be as a result of natural causes or human propelled factors.
Natural causes of death include old age and various forms of illnesses.
Human propelled causes of death include accidents, war or violent conflicts and outright assassination or suicide or even murder have been the major sources of widowhood since the last half of the 19th century.
In all of these has emerged the growing number of widows who form a special category of women with socio-economic, psychological, health, sexual, economical and social related problems as a result of their changed social status but which they have never found a place in social policy in Nigeria as families of their deceased husbands treat them like outcasts, especially those that didn’t bore male children.
In a very profound way, cultural and social norms such as a rare chance to remarry, mourning rites that places heavy restraints on movement and social contacts and lack of inheritance do exacerbate widowhood and deepen poverty among women rendering them to further abuse, discrimination and exploitation.
The National Assembly should enact a law to protect widows against families of their deceased spouses, especially in the South Eastern part of the country.
Chinwe Oforduru is fortunate to be a member of the Joint Legal Action Aids (JLAA), a Human Right group that fights for the right of the oppressed. She has taken the matter to the group.
The National Executive of JLAA has decided to get involved in the matter as the matter has been assigned to the Legal Team to have a look at it and respond accordingly.